Ribbon cut on facility dedicated to changing lives of young people

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 7, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Come September, the Hampton Roads Youth Center will be going about the serious business of helping troubled kids turn their lives around.

But the mood was celebratory on Thursday as dozens of project supporters braved the morning showers to attend the school’s long-awaited ribbon-cutting ceremony.


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&uot;Reality is now upon us,&uot; said Richard Munchel, the school’s executive director.

The residential school on Kenyon Road will start off with 10 male students from ages 12 to 18, Munchel said. Students and their families are now going through the interviewing process necessary before being accepted the HRYC program.

The facility will help kids in dysfunctional family and school situations who may be considered at risk of getting into future trouble with the legal system, he said. In addition to attending classes, students and their families will participate in weekly therapy sessions.

The process of transforming the former office space into classroom and living space has consumed much of the past three years. The nonprofit school has raised more than $2.4 million, much of which has come in the shape of services that helped renovate the building and its grounds, Munchel said.

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., said the HRYC would make a difference in countless lives.

The youngsters that will come here feel like they don’t have much,&uot; Forbes said. &uot;This is a great opportunity for them to have a life they would never have otherwise have had.

&uot;…People tend to judge things by their failures. We need to judge things by its successes,&uot; he continued. &uot;A tremendous number of lives will be changed here.&uot;

The youth center was the brainchild of Joseph B. Goldman, a retired Virginia Beach businessman whose personal experiences made him acutely aware of the need for such a center in the region.

Goldman and his wife, Julia, raised two grandchildren whose parents &uot;slipped between the cracks.&uot; It wasn’t until the couple sent their grandchildren to residential schools in Charlottesville and northern Georgia that their lives got on the right track.

&uot;We found the right schools but it would have been so much easier to have a school like this in Hampton Roads at that time,&uot; Goldman said.